When the East Suburban Artists League staged its first show in February 1965, the venue was nothing more than an empty storeroom next to an A & P grocery store in Holiday Park with a dirt floor and fire barrel to heat the space.
Since then, the league has had shows at the Press Club Downtown, Monroeville Mall and the Monroeville Library. For the past 36 years, however, it also has staged an annual show at the Community College of Allegheny County’s Boyce campus.
To celebrate its founding in January 1965, the league is staging another month long show at the Boyce campus from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 29 through Sept. 25 daily.
At the show, more than 30 artists and photographers will display their work in media that include oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, photography, fabric art, painted glass, wood and more. The public is invited to attend the opening from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 29.
"It’s a members-only exhibit with each artist showing up to two pieces each," said show coordinator and league president Linda Galati from Penn Township.
Watercolor artist and illustrator Ron Thurston of Coraopolis will judge the show, awarding a Best of Show and six judges’ awards as well as several judges’ honorable mentions.
Mr. Thurston is a member of the Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Watercolor Societies and a signature member of the American Watercolor Society. He has won numerous artistic awards including the Keystone Award and Medal in 2014. The April 2014 edition of Watercolor Artist Magazine, a national publication, featured eight of his paintings.
For most of his professional career, he’s worked as an illustrator and also leads adult watercolor classes at the Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley and workshops at the Touchstone Center for Crafts in Farmington, Fayette County. As the league show judge, he’ll be asked to evaluate the submissions in all of the art categories.
"I’ve judged the show once before and, for me, it’s all about the image and its visual impact," he said. "If I like something well enough to hang on my wall, it’s a candidate for an award."
Ten-year league member and vice president Joy Anglin from Murrysville hasn’t yet decided which two of her watercolors she’ll enter in the upcoming show. In April, she took home a judges’ mention for her watercolor "Hydrangeas in Fall," at a league show in Latrobe. "CCAC Boyce has always been a great venue for us, and the show has gotten a lot of positive response from the public," she said.
North Braddock photographers Bob Patterson and his wife, Christine, have been league members for more than 10 years. Both consider themselves wildlife and nature photographers whose favorite subjects are the wolves and bears living at the Minnesota Wildlife Connection, a preserve where artists and photographers can paint or photograph animals in the wild.
"Christine and I joined the league because the members are not only talented but also friendly and very involved in league programs," Mr. Patterson said.
Six-year league member and past president Pamela Price of Monroeville is entering two watercolors in this month’s show. One titled "Dear Lizzie" is the portrait of a young woman in her early 20s who joined Ms. Price and eight other women on a Cultural Connection for Peace trip to India two years ago. Ms. Price used a photograph of the woman, who died last year, as the basis for her portrait.
"The league has a wonderful group of artists who inspire one another with confidence and camaraderie," she said.
Founded in 1965 as the Holiday Park Artists League by a group of artists from Holiday Park and Pittsburgh’s East suburbs, the league changed its name to the East Suburban Artists League in 1981. In addition to the annual show at CCAC, the league also has shows at various locales, including the Latrobe Art Center and Penn State New Kensington. On Oct. 3, the league will open a month long show at the Boulevard Gallery, 736 Allegheny River Blvd. in Verona.
With 67 current members who hail from the eastern suburbs and north through New Kensington, Apollo and Lower Burrell, the league meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, September through April, at Christ’s Lutheran Church, 5330 Logan Ferry Road, Murrysville. An artist talk or workshop follows each meeting. Annual dues are $25, or $30 a couple.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.